Critics are praising John Krokidas’ “Kill Your Darlings,” starring Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg. The film, which is edgier and more engaging than Walter Salles’ faithfully literary “On the Road,” is being called an unusually successful portrait of the Beat generation, “a genuine attempt to source the beginning of America’s first true literary counterculture.”
Sundance buyers are circling cautiously as they do not want to overpay, even if they believe the film is more commercial than disappointing “On the Road,” which was hurt by intense year-end competition.
Below, review snippets and highlights from Radcliffe’s recent interview with Esquire.
From Esquire interview:
Radcliffe on playing Ginsberg:
“Someone asked me if it was intimidating to play the Beats, and it is intimidating, but it’s not daunting if you stop thinking of them as the Beats, and think of them as people going on a very universal journey of self-discovery and joy and then responsibility. You need to experience both to find out who you are. When you’re seventeen to early twenties, that’s the time you’re trying to work out who you are. If you’re trying to make some kind of artistic or creative impact, that’s the age when you start to figure out how to do that.”
On wanting to direct:
“Leaving Potter, working on new things — more than anything what it’s confirmed is how much I want to direct. I want to write, too, but that’s what I know now I didn’t know five years ago… I think Sundance is probably the most likely option [for venue]. My taste in the films I’ve taken as an actor is similar to what I’d do a director or writer: all quite odd, challenging stuff, slightly off-the-wall.”
Films about the Beat generation are all too often made for kudos by well-meaning but not so well-read dilettantes who simply want to advertise their often misguided interest in the this now-infamous bohemian group of writers. “Kill Your Darlings,” though, is the real deal, a genuine attempt to source the beginning of America’s first true literary counterculture of the 20th century. It doesn’t resemble Paul Thomas Anderson’s film in style but an alternative title could easily be “There Will Be Blood,” since it is about the way fate can be determined in the crucible of violence, via a little-known but, in its own intimate way, galvanising moment in modern, but now fast-fading, literary history.
“Kill Your Darlings” succeeds more than most in capturing the first flickers of the literary movement without hipster self-consciousness. More specifically, this invigoratingly textured jazz riff — spliced with hallucinogenic interludes, introspective detours and moments of romantic reverie — explores a formative period in Ginsberg’s life. He’s not quite the center of this story, but Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) provides its overriding point of view.
The most impressive and noteworthy aspects of “Darlings” is Kodikas’ stylish cinematic eye and his collaboration with cinematographer Reed Morano… The film is also Kodikas’ feature directorial debut and he takes advantage of his opportunity making some bold choices in a repetitive rewinding footage motif and mixing period and contemporary music. He also manages to distinctively avoid cliche’s staging his character’s drug induced writing binges which is no easy feat. The main troupe of Radcliffe, DeHaan, Hall and Foster are strong (Hall gives the best turn of the four), but it’s the secondary players including a terrific Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyra Sedgwick and David Cross that provide the gravity for Kodikas’ rich canvas.